If you’re going to be honest with yourself, then you have to admit that technology runs your life. Most of the time, it might feel like your entire world revolves around the online world. The sheer volume of information that you can access anytime, anywhere is anything from impressive to downright frightening.

It’s not really any different for anyone else either. Who doesn’t just go right to Google when they have a question anymore? No one asks friends or family for help; they ask a search engine. If it’s not Google, it’s Bing, Yahoo, or one of the dozens to hundreds of others trying to get a slice of the search engine pie. Search Engine Land has published statistics showing that Google manages, at a minimum, over 2 trillion searches per year. In order to find the best matches for those services, Google needs to read the content of over 1.2 trillion websites.

Are you wondering what all this has to do with your nonprofit? Well, first of all, your organization is going to have a lot of difficulty in growing if no one can find it online. This is the biggest reason why SEO is so crucial to nonprofits, among many other reasons.

Search engine optimization is very useful to commercial establishments looking to make money and profit, but it can also help raise awareness about your nonprofit’s work, mission, and stories. Anyone who cares about a particular cause or social issue will eventually use their favorite search engine in order to find out things about it. If your nonprofit’s website is listed in the top results, it’ll boost the visibility of your site, driving up your traffic. What’s more than that, your traffic will be high in quality and very relevant. When you have an increase in readers or visitors and they’re actually interested in what you have to say, then your content and calls-to-action can mean your website becomes a powerful voice for your mission’s story and goals.

One thing you can do with your content and calls-to-action is boosting your online donations. As a nonprofit, you probably rely entirely on fundraising and budget, so online donations are a huge element of all that in an age of crowdfunding and Internet giving. Not only can SEO make it easy for donors to provide your mission funds through your site, but it can also make it easier for those interested in supporting you to find you in the first place. The inclusion of the correct keywords is a great way to optimize your donation pages, which you should then couple with an easily-followed donation process.

Of course, donations might not be the only support that you need. Supporters, in general, are what nonprofits need most. Whether you’re looking for assistance at a foundation level or just as a grassroots thing, you can find people that help you out with fundraising, outreach, and operations. You might have situations where you need people’s time more than their money, and optimizing registration pages for things like events, volunteer possibilities, and newsletters makes it much simpler for prospective supporters to find you so they too can get involved.

When you tell your story, remember that even though you’re technically a nonprofit, you still have to sell yourself. SEO can help you promote various pieces of content that do that, including infographics, information, statistics, news stories, photo galleries, and testimonials. You’ll have creative freedom here though, and possibly a lot more than a commercial enterprise would have.

Local SEO, in particular, can be very powerful for nonprofit outfits. You might be on a mission to change the world and love thinking big, but in this case, thinking small can still lead to big things. Ignoring local supporters and donors isn’t smart. Even if you’re a nonprofit, you should set up a Google My Business page and then do what you can to get positive reviews and as many of them as you can.

If your nonprofit is doing something that might have any kind of opponents or detractors, as can happen with many causes, no matter how noble the intentions, then SEO can be a powerful tool for you to manage your own reputations. The reason for this is that if you don’t do it, someone else might come along and do it for you. If there’s anything controversial about your cause, or you face resistance from businesses, politicians, or even other organizations, then you need to be very mindful of your search rankings and do what you can to control them. This can break down in two ways.

First of all, any content that your opponents put out that are negative about your nonprofit or put you in a bad light might be promoted using their own SEO. That would mean anyone Googling your nonprofit’s name might find a bunch of things that make you look really bad, which can turn them off. True or not, they trust Google and its rankings.

Secondly, there is such a thing as ‘black hat SEO’ where cheap and unethical tactics that Google disapproves of, like link-spamming, can get a site penalized. It’s actually possible for someone else to do a black-hat SEO campaign that looks like it’s intended to promote your site while knowing full well that Google will see through it and penalize your site, as they assume you’re the guilty party. Fortunately, one technical component of thorough SEO is identifying all the links pointing to your site and analyzing where they’re coming from. If you spot someone trying to sink you, then you can work with Google to disavow those links.

One final benefit of SEO to a nonprofit is that you can rely on it as an appreciating asset. It’ll take some time and effort before you start seeing results, but if you stick with it consistently, it’s only going to bring you more and more benefit in the future. Proper SEO won’t just boost your traffic, as it will also establish your organization’s credibility while more establishments and individuals link back to your content.

Now that you know why SEO is so important to the success (or failure) of your nonprofit establishment, you should understand why you or someone in your organization needs to take charge in making sure it happens. The importance of search engine optimization to your nonprofit simply can’t be stated enough.